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Old 09-23-2019, 05:11 PM   #1
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Westerbeke 5KW Genset Diagnostic Question

The genset on my boat will not start. According to the PO it worked fine, but last time he started it was more than a year ago.

When I hit the "preheat" switch, the lift pump is clicking and fuel gets as far as the injector pump bleed screw. It does not appear to make it to the injectors, at least not from the lift pump pressure. When I crank the engine, it turns over fine but does not sound like it's getting any fuel or the glow plugs aren't heating. It's not interested in starting, just cranks.

I tried cracking open the injector lines and cranking the engine and no fuel.

My thought is that the fuel cutoff solenoid perhaps is not working or it's stuck closed. Is there a way to check that to see if it's functioning correctly on a non-running engine?

Also, what is the best way to determine if the glow plugs are working?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-23-2019, 08:05 PM   #2
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My Northern Lights did the same thing. After numerous bleedings of the injectors (all good). We finally as a last resort did a compression test and found that it had virtually no compression. PO (s) had not run it much and obviously had not worked it hard. All valve and cylinders were highly fouled with carbon. After valve job it now runs fine. And anytime I start it I run it for at least 45 minutes and am sure to load it up during that time to eliminate carbon buildup.
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Old 09-23-2019, 08:20 PM   #3
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Exactly which model of genset is it? Since you mentioned preheat, I am assuming it is diesel.

Bad shut-off solenoid; bad lifter pump; a partially closed supply valve, such as on the tank or fuel manifold, or primary fuel filter; constricted supply line; air leak into fuel line on suction side; or bad injector pump are my first few guesses.

Without knowing the model to look up the solenoid, I can't answer with any confidence. But, some solenoids are external and attached to a lever. Others are internal.

Some controls are pretty integrated, and some controls have a simple shut-off button ow switch. If it is a simple switch a lot of times one can get a sense about what is going on with two people. One can press the button and one can listen and, if external, watch. If it doesn't work that way, one can often apply 12V externally to make it operate, and again listen for the click or watch for movement.

If it is internal and is suspect, one can usually pull it and operate it on the bench with a 12V supply, e.g. battery. The same is true of the external kind, but they don't usually need to be removed to be observed. In either case, they are mechanical and the movement can be seen.

At any rate, if you can find the model number, I'll see if I can find a service manual or parts list and see what I can find.

You can watch them function. Others are internal.
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Old 09-23-2019, 08:32 PM   #4
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It's a Westerbeke 5.0BCDB Diesel generator. Three cylinder. The fuel run solenoid is attached to the rear of the fuel injector pump. I assume it operates a slide for fuel cutoff like the big diesels, but just a guess.

I have the parts manual and a technical manual for it, but it does not address how to test the fuel run solenoid switch, only how to replace it.

It does have a recommendation for testing the glow plugs, so I'll try that tomorrow.
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Old 09-23-2019, 08:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by wwestman View Post
My Northern Lights did the same thing. After numerous bleedings of the injectors (all good). We finally as a last resort did a compression test and found that it had virtually no compression. PO (s) had not run it much and obviously had not worked it hard. All valve and cylinders were highly fouled with carbon. After valve job it now runs fine. And anytime I start it I run it for at least 45 minutes and am sure to load it up during that time to eliminate carbon buildup.
I don't have a compression tester to use on this engine, but will definitely look into this as a possibility. I will pull the glow plugs tomorrow and check them so I figure they will be pretty "carbon'd up" if things are not working as intended....
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Old 09-23-2019, 09:43 PM   #6
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See page 37 of the service manual:
-- https://www.westerbeke.com/technical...cal_manual.pdf

Basically, you should be able to remove 4 screws and take off a cover near the injector pump. With the cover off, you'll be able to watch the solenoid move. You should see it in one position (forward, I think) when you crank the engine and when it is running normally, and in a different position (retracted, I think), any time the generator is neither cranking nor running. I could have the positions backward. I don't really know which way this particular solenoid moves. I'm just guessing because it is called a "run" solenoid vs a "stop" solenoid. I didn't look to see the details of the solenoid or injector pump. And, there is good reason for it to work the other way, which I suspect is more common (not needing to be energized at all, except to stop).

But, in any case, there is one position for starting/running normally and another position for not running. By comparing (not-running and not-cranking) to (cranking or running), you should be able to see the difference. If you can't, there is a related problem.

Taking a quick look at the manual, it looks like that is a 3-wire solenoid dual coil solenoid with red, white, and black wires.

One wire is the common negative. Another wire is the higher current initial "pull" coil. And the remaining wire is the lower current "hold" coil. If I had to guess, I'd guess that the black wire is the common negative, the white is the "pull", and the red is the "hold".

Normally what happens is that the "hold" coil is tied to the ignition, so any time the generator is on, the "hold" coil is energized. It has enough "umph" to hold the solenoid pulled -- but only if it is already pulled. It doesn't have enough "umph" to move it, just to hold it. This ignition circuit normally passes through the safety switches, e.g. oil pressure, water temp, exhaust temp, generator output, etc, possibly through a time relay. So, if the hold coil isn't getting power when the ignition is on, it could be a problem with the power to that circuit -- or a problem with one of the safety switches.

The "pull" coil of the solenoid is tied to the starter. It is a higher current coil with enough "umph" to pull the solenoid, but will burn itself out if active continuously. It is just designed to be energized during starting. If the solenoid isn't moving when the starter is cranking, at least one possibility is that this coil is burned out. Another possibility is that the control rack on the injector pump that it moves is stuck. With everything off an not powered, you can usually get a flat head screwdriver in between the solenoid plunger and the button on the control rack to try to operate the rack by hand. If it won't move, the problem is problem on the injector pump -- but that is really rare as compared to a bad solenoid coil. Especially since excessive cranking can burn out that coil.

So, if the solenoid doesn't move when cranking, the next step is probable to turn the ignition on and check the red and white wires. The one with voltage to the black wire is the "hold" wire. The one without is the "pull" wire. If neither has power, that is curious. It could be a problem with the ignition circuit or a safety switch. But, hold that thought.

Get someone to crank the generator while monitoring the "pull" wire. Make sure voltage comes up while cranking and down otherwise. If you weren't able to figure out which was which, check both. If the solenoid isn't moving when the pull wire is energized -- it is probably a bad solenoid. You can unscrew it and bench test it, which will isolate it from a possibly stuck injector control rack button. You can also try to actuate the button on the injector pump with a screw drive or whatever. If the button moves freely and the solenoid can't push it while cranking and the solenoid is getting power -- the "pull" coil is likely bad. Replace the solenoid.

I know you said the generator won't start. But, if it actually sounds like it starts and then stops, the problem could be with the "hold" coil or wire. Check to see if it is getting power when the ignition is on. If not, the problem is probably with one of the safety switches. But, wherever the ignition power disappears is where the problem is -- trace it back.

As another test of the solenoid, you can also pull it out, hold it activated, and the power the hold wire. The hold coil should then be able to hold the solenoid activated. If it can't -- there is likely a problem with the hold coil. Replace the solenoid. I usually use a pair of pliers or a piece of wood to move the solenoid into position before testing this so a fast movement doesn't, for example, injure my finger. The plunger might be held on only by compression -- so make sure you have everything under control so you don't lose it.

If you don't mind diving right into pulling the solenoid out, you can also just dive right to the meat of it and pull the solenoid out and use a couple of batter wires (with a fuse) and power the "pull" coil to see if it works. And then, if it does, move and (safely) hold it in position, energize the "hold" coil, and see if it will hold it. Then, if either is bad -- replace the solenoid.

And, if neither is bad, check for power on the red and white wires to see which one isn't energizing, and debug the electrical from there.

I hope this helps.

-Greg
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Old 09-23-2019, 09:46 PM   #7
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If the fuel is't getting to the injectors, I don't think the issue is compression. Fuel hasn't gotten far enough for that to matter. Of course, there could be a block or head problem, e.g. cylinders, pistons, rings, valves, etc. But, I think that would likely be independent of the specific symptoms reported, since without fuel, not much happens.

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Old 09-23-2019, 11:59 PM   #8
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You can unscrew the fuel solenoid from the back of the inj pump and stick a finger in the hole to see if rack is stuck. Should move maybe half inch. Solenoid pushes on rack for shutdown. Can also hit preheat with solenoid out but connected and see that it retracts.

Plumgers in inj pumps can stick from sitting and that will also stick the rack.
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Old 09-24-2019, 11:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gkesden View Post
If the fuel is't getting to the injectors, I don't think the issue is compression. Fuel hasn't gotten far enough for that to matter. Of course, there could be a block or head problem, e.g. cylinders, pistons, rings, valves, etc. But, I think that would likely be independent of the specific symptoms reported, since without fuel, not much happens.

Cheers!
-Greg
Greg- first, thank you for the extremely detailed response and information!
(And to everyone else so far...)

So I pulled off the solenoid and can verify that the rack moves freely. The switch is in an extended position without any power applied, holding the rack forward.

I reinstalled the solenoid and removed the inspection plate.

When the preheat momentary switch is applied, the lift pump operates but the rack does not move. Continuing to hold the preheat on and depressing the start switch causes the starter to engage and the solenoid retracts briefly allowing the rack to move backwards but only for about 1-2 seconds. Then the solenoid returns the rack forward while the engine continues to crank.

I did not remove the glow plugs but they do each feel noticeably warmer after the preheat is engaged for about 20 seconds.

I guess the question is, if the rack is forward when dormant and moves rearward when the the starter is initially engaged, is it supposed to remain rearward during engine run? Based on this, it seems that the issue may be one of the other switch’s and not the run solenoid as it does move the rack in both directions, if only momentarily.

Suggestions for what to do next?
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Old 09-24-2019, 11:54 AM   #10
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Will read your message in more detail later this afternoon. For the moment, it is basically 2 position...and run and not run. There isn't a special start position.

Immediate curiosity is that safety sensors are normally in hold coil circuit, not pull coil circuit.

Heading into a class (I teach) can't look at message beyond a quick scan now nor look back at circuit schematic, but will.
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Old 09-24-2019, 12:55 PM   #11
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The rack movement you describe doesn't sound right to me. I have the same unit. From memory the solenoid gets power to run from both the preheat circuit and the sensor shut off circuit. It should be in the run position any time the fuel pump is operating, i.e. when the preheat button is on.
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Old 09-24-2019, 03:45 PM   #12
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Hey Brad,

Looking quickly at the schematic on pages 43 and 44 of that service manual...

What should be happening is that, initially, the preheat circuit should be powering the hold coil, even though it won't immediately have any effect, and also powering the fuel pump, which I guess you can hear or feel. Then, once the starter motor solenoid bumps the pull coil on the fuel solenoid, the hold coil, already active via the preheat solenoid, should be able to hold it from there. Then, as oil pressure comes up, the safety circuit takes over powering the run solenoid's hold coil, and you can let go of the preheat button.

I know you wrote that you never let go of the preheat switch. But, in the event that you are letting go before starting the motor -- that would be a likely problem.

If the run solenoid is pulling back and is letting go before you let go of the preheat button, the hold coil isn't holding. It is either bad, not getting powered, or losing power.

One question I have is this, is the fuel lifter pump powered the entire time? It is also powered by the preheat circuit.

I think the next step is to put a meter on that hold coil and see if it is getting powered by that preheat circuit. If not, I'd trace back and see why not. If it is getting powered, I'd pull it out and test it by hand. Is it actually able to hold the solenoid once actuated? If not, it is bad.

I'd also want to confirm that the fuel pump is running the whole time preheat is pressed. It is also powered by the same preheat solenoid as the hold coil.

If the solenoid isn't getting power to the hold coil, or the power to the hold coil is dropping out -- we've probably got to take a better look at that schematic and see where that could be happening.

But, I am a big fan of Occam's Razor. If the hold coil isn't holding -- I'll bet it is a bad hold coil. Of course, I wouldn't bet enough to order the part -- that never works out as planned! I would just bet enough to test the hold coil next.

See what you find and let us know. Once I know more about what you learn, I'll try to help more, as I'm sure the crowd will also.


Cheers!
-Greg
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:46 PM   #13
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Hey Brad,


I know you wrote that you never let go of the preheat switch. But, in the event that you are letting go before starting the motor -- that would be a likely problem.


One question I have is this, is the fuel lifter pump powered the entire time? It is also powered by the preheat circuit.

I think the next step is to put a meter on that hold coil and see if it is getting powered by that preheat circuit. If not, I'd trace back and see why not. If it is getting powered, I'd pull it out and test it by hand. Is it actually able to hold the solenoid once actuated? If not, it is bad.

I'd also want to confirm that the fuel pump is running the whole time preheat is pressed. It is also powered by the same preheat solenoid as the hold coil.

If the solenoid isn't getting power to the hold coil, or the power to the hold coil is dropping out -- we've probably got to take a better look at that schematic and see where that could be happening.

But, I am a big fan of Occam's Razor. If the hold coil isn't holding -- I'll bet it is a bad hold coil. Of course, I wouldn't bet enough to order the part -- that never works out as planned! I would just bet enough to test the hold coil next.

See what you find and let us know. Once I know more about what you learn, I'll try to help more, as I'm sure the crowd will also.


Cheers!
-Greg

So I haven't had a chance to get back out to the boat and likely won't until Saturday morning but...

I do maintain the preheat switch for about 15 seconds prior to hitting the start switch and continue to depress both as I attempt to start.

The fuel pump is running during the entire attempt sequence, as long as I am holding the preheat switch on.

I tend to agree that it sounds from your discussion that the hold switch may not be functioning correctly, but as you say, if I just order a new one that will turn out not to be the issue

So...I need to find the hold switch. I will look through the technical manual
and the parts manual and see if I can locate a picture of what I'm looking for and let you know what I find with the voltmeter. I'll also review the schemateic a little closer, but can't promise that won't only cause more questions.

Thanks!!
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Old 09-26-2019, 01:02 PM   #14
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The hold coil is built into the solenoid. It cant usually be replaced separately.
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Old 09-26-2019, 03:15 PM   #15
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I have an 8Kw westerbeke and suspect that it and the 5Kw are the same for this problem.

The engine has a fuel start and run solenoid. This solenoid has two coils and an internal switch inside, The two coils are pull open and hold open. The reason for the two coils is the pull open requires a lot of power and pulls very hard. The hold open coil uses much less power and just holds the engine throttle open which is much less work than pulling it open. You have to make a very precise adjustment when the solenoid is installed so that the solenoid switches from the pull coil to the hold coil. if this adjustment is not right the pull coil stays energized and will burn out because it is not designed for long term enerization. This is a well known problem area with westerbeake. I'm not saying this is your precise problem but it sounds like you solenoid has a bad pull or hold coil or internal switch problem. Good Luck. https://www.westerbeke.com/service%2...tin/sb_127.pdf
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Old 09-26-2019, 03:56 PM   #16
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The problem isn't likely with the pull coil or wiring as it can be seen moving. So, it is more likely with the hold coil or wiring.

The pull and hold coils are internal to the solenoid, so the usual way to replace them is to replace the whole solenoid. Those could, in theory, be rebuild, but I've never known that to be done when parts are available.

In trying to debug the problem, the most direct thing to do is probably to pull the solenoid, power the hold coil, then momentarily power the pull coil and see if it pulls and stays pulled.

One could also do this test while the solenoid is installed, e.g. by directly powering the hold coil and then starting, bypassing the rest of the wiring. But, it is probably just more straight-forward to pull it for testing and, if it doesn't pass -- replace it.

And, if it does pass, taking the opportunity to see where the hold coil isn't getting powered. For example, take the dangling hold wire and attach a ringer to it and see where along the power path between there and preheat the wire and devices along the way quit ringing. A similar test can be made with a volt meter, but slower.
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Old 09-26-2019, 06:25 PM   #17
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I have a different model Westerbeke generator, so comments from my experiences with it may not be useful.

I wonder why your electric fuel pump never shuts down when you hold the preheat switch for ~15 second prior to pressing the start switch. My pump runs for roughly 5 seconds and then shuts down, I assume it shuts down when the desired pressure in the fuel line has been achieved. Are you sure the pump has fuel entering and exiting? It should be easy to confirm.

Good luck!
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Old 09-27-2019, 12:07 AM   #18
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The lifter pump and some type of associated safety cut-off on the hold circuit is a good thought, but I checked the manual and there is no such cut-off and the manual says it should make a ticking noise as long as preheat is pressed.
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Old 09-27-2019, 03:28 AM   #19
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I had the reverse problem with my 3cyl Kubota engined Onan. It was a start/stop solenoid issue, in my case the initial "pull in" was not working, but if I pulled it across manually, the engine would start and the "hold" function kept it running, so I could use it if I visited the genset in the ER instead of using the remote panel. Yours seems to lack "hold" after initial "pull in" function.
Onan`s advice was, if the part gave trouble, replace it. If you do,check ebay using the part number. I paid for a Cummins/Onan one which turned out made in that place the subject of big tariffs, but I bought a back up spare on Ebay(also made in China) at about 15% of Cummins price.
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Old 09-28-2019, 12:44 PM   #20
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I have a video showing what happens when through the start sequence. You can see the rack moving forward initially and the snapping back quickly as the engine cranks. I’m not sure how to attach it from my phone. I’ve tried holding the governor lever open, but the “click” still comes from the rack and it still snaps back. Click image for larger version

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